Mathew Gilden apparently possessed enough wealth to live comfortably until he became obessessed with gold. This prompted him to hire the Tinkerer to create a high-tech costume and hover craft of the Goldbug. Assuming the identity of "Jack Smith," Gilden became an executive of Shank's Couriers, gaining knowledge of gold shipments through the country. Over several years, "Smith" used this knowledge to become a master criminal as Goldbug. To take the heat of himself "Smith" hired super-mercenary Luke Cage to guard a shipment and planned to accuse him of the impending robbery. During the theft, Goldbug nearly asphyxiated Cage in a sheath of gold dust, but super-swift vigilante Thunderbolt (William Carver) rescued him. Later, Goldbug captured the Hulk as part of his plan to find and conquer the legendary city of El Dorado in South America, In El Dorado, Goldbug teamed up with the Hulk to defeat the subterranean conqueror Tyrannus.
He then sought an alliance with the criminal Maggia, but was thwarted by the intervention of Spider-Man. Sometime afterward, the Goldbug attempted to steal underwater gold but was foiled by Namor, the Sub-Mariner.